Settled on the most easterly edge of New Zealand’s North Island, Gisborne’s vineyards are the first in the country to welcome the sunrise each morning.
Historically, New Zealand’s third largest wine growing region was regarded as one of the country’s ‘fruit bowls’ where the golden climate encourages orchards bearing citrus and stone fruits as well avocados and a wide assortment of vegetables. And, with 19 wineries in the region, Gisborne wine tours have drawn visitors to the area with the lure of an exciting range of wine styles, a sun kissed verdant landscape and a fascinating history – this is where Captain James Cook made his first landing in 1769.
The relatively remote region, which can be reached from the towns of Napier and Hastings, has become critically acclaimed for its diverse range of wines, which are dominated by Chardonnay – followed by Pinot Gris. European red wine styles from France, Northern Italy and Spain – including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, Tempranillo and Grenache – have also found a home here. Gisborne’s warm and dry climate is moderated by cool breezes from the nearby ocean, while mountain ranges to the north provide shelter for vineyards to create enviable conditions for growing wines with natural acidity, tropical fruit flavours and subtle marine undertones.
At Wine Paths, our local expert can arrange exclusive Gisborne wine tours, including elaborate tastings, luxury accommodation, fine dining experiences and some unique activities. All of our private tours can be tailor made to meet your exact requirements, ensuring every detail is taken care of so that you can relax and enjoy the matter at hand.
By the end of the 1970s, Gisborne was the largest wine producer in New Zealand and became known as ‘carafe country’ due to the high yields of Muller-Thurgau grapes that were used for low quality box wines. Since then, however, the focus has been on lower yields of higher quality classical varieties.
Despite being responsible for only 4% of New Zealand’s entire wine production, Gisborne wines are admired on the international stage – especially the aromatic varieties such as Chardonnay, Gewurtztraminer, Viognier and Chenin Blanc. The biggest producer in the area is Pernod Ricard, which contributes almost 70% towards the region’s entire production – although most of these grapes are grown to make sparkling Lindauer Brut, or ‘Kiwi fizz’ as it is sometimes called.
There are three main sub-regions that can be visited as part of Gisborne wine tours, each with their own characteristics and subtle differences in wine styles:
To the north of the city, Ormond is where Gisborne’s first vines were planted and is now home to some of the region’s most renowned vineyards – as well as the so-called ‘Golden Slope’; a gently sloping, free-draining 10km escarpment where arguably the country’s best Chardonnay hails from.
Moving inland to the west, Patutahi is a warmer sub region that produce’s a third of the wine from Gisborne, which includes some outstanding Gewurtztraminer. And, on the coastal area south of the city, Manutuke can claim some excellent Chardonnay.
Each year, Gisborne hosts a pair of large scale, internationally recognised events: the Gisborne Wine & Food Festival and the Gisborne Regional Wine Awards. The Wine and Food Festival showcases New Zealand’s finest entertainment, celebrity chefs and tastings from a stunning vineyard setting.
If you are interested in Gisborne wine tours, visit our New Zealand destination page for more ideas and inspiration before planning a bespoke tour.